Music

Donal Hinely: Giants

Jason MacNeil

Singer-songwriter and exquisite storyteller builds on previous success to create another solid record with help from Will Kimbrough and others.


Donal Hinely

Giants

Label: Scuffletown
US Release Date: 2005-06-14
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

One the front cover of Donal Hinely's latest album there's a picture featuring half to about one-third of Hinely himself but with a toque-wearing concrete yard or lawn gnome behind him. The gnome has a big smile on his face, so maybe it's a good omen of what's to come on this album. Perhaps the gnome is a huge fan of Texas troubadours like Steve Earle and Robert Earl Keen, two people Hinely has often been linked to in various interviews and reviews. And while he is also sporting Coke bottle bottom-like glasses, it's easily understandable for such comparisons. With a timbre that would fit perfectly here in Canada with roots rocker Mike Plume, Hinely gives the leadoff title track a gentle sway with his voice and the great melody. The song is one the listener should expect to slowly build with each verse, and that is exactly what happens as Hinely recalls the death of John F. Kennedy and the various upheaval that was the late '60s in the United States. It's not exactly the cheeriest of ditties, but Hinely recalls the killing of John Lennon as a pedal steel guitar subtly adds color as does the distant mandolin.

You can tell exactly where Hinely is coming from on the punchy and roots rock sounding "Before Music Was a Product", which pulls no punches on music's current commercial-oriented state. "Take me home said the pilgrim with a six-string / I'm gonna run while I still gotta chance," Hinely sings with some help from David Henry. This tune brings Earle circa Exit O to mind immediately, a simple but infectious sound that Hinely carries off with sickeningly ease. The album opens with a to-and-fro style as Hinely offers up a slow tune then an upbeat one before retracing his steps with the tender singer-songwriter "Road to Ruin" that could have been recorded around a campfire or, better yet, around one microphone. "Shock and Awe", which is perhaps not that much of a stretch to bring President Bush's war strategy to mind, is your typical rambling Dylan-ish number with voice, guitar, and a keen turn of phrases. While politically oriented, Hinely doesn't allow the song to get bogged down politics, instead enabling you to think a bit.

After a quirky-meets-string-laced pop attempt during "The Shakes", which might have been better placed on XTC's Apple Venus Volume 1, Hinely gets back to basics with the pleasing "You and Me", a picture-perfect roots rock tune with a touch of polish production-wise to boot that talks of adding a little bundle of joy into the equation. "Bubble" is the shortest song of the dozen offered here, but it's perhaps also one of the sweetest although the strings in the homestretch are a bit too much to stomach at best.

"Louisville", on the other hand, is the first of five final songs which are fully fleshed out, the majority clocking in at over four minutes apiece. "Louisville" is a slow, ambling Americana-flavored song that has some horns also, giving it that laidback, relaxing tone throughout. The highlight has to be "Talkin' Cheap Trick Blues" that seems to mix the best of Hinely's vocals with a groove that he rides from start to finish, even if it recalls pop songs from the titular band like "Dream Police" and "I Want You to Want Me" from At Budokan. Meanwhile, "Adelaide" tends to take a little while to gather steam but once it does 'tis well worth it. Another gem is the softer, sparser, Nebraska-like "Blue Ink" that is almost haunting with its touch of strings added for tension and effect.

7

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image